Banking & Finance, Health Care, and Human Resources

Chamber announces ATHENA winner

August 10, 2017
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Bank names health plan marketer to board
Joan Budden. Courtesy Priority Health

A local chamber of commerce has selected a health insurance executive as the recipient of its annual award geared toward women in leadership roles.

Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce named Joan Budden, president and CEO of Priority Health, as the chamber’s 2017 ATHENA Award winner.

The award honors an individual who has demonstrated leadership in her professional field, mentored and opened doors of opportunities for women and contributed time and talent to the community.

The other 2017 ATHENA Award finalists were Lori Burgess, executive director Kent County Girls on the Run; Carol Van Andel, executive director of the David and Carol Van Andel Foundation; Nkechy Ekere Ezeh, CEO of Early Learning Neighborhood Collaborative; and Christy Buck, executive director of the Mental Health Foundation of West Michigan.

An awards luncheon will be held from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., Sept. 14, in the JW Marriott’s international ballroom, 235 Louis Campau St. NW.

Chamber members may attend for $70; nonmembers can get in for $80. A corporate table of 10 guests costs $800. Attendees may register online.

Budden’s background

Budden was appointed to lead Priority Health in 2015. At the time, Richard Breon, president and CEO of the insurer’s parent company, Spectrum Health, called Budden a leader with “extensive experience” and an “outstanding choice” to lead Priority Health.

She led the development of Priority Health’s Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act strategy, resulting in Priority Health being named the state’s benchmark health plan.

Under Budden’s leadership in her prior role of chief marketing officer, Priority Health developed a number of tools and programs for consumer engagement and transparency, contributing to the insurer’s “unprecedented growth” and “ensuring its members have the resources to receive convenient, high-quality care at the best price.”

Previously, she led the individual consumer division, project management office and corporate strategy department for Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan.

She also serves on a number of statewide boards.

Young Professionals award

The 2017 ATHENA Young Professional Award recipient will be announced at the event, recognizing an emerging leader for their contributions to community, professional excellence and commitment to serve as a personal and professional role model to young women.

2017 ATHENA Young Professional Award finalists

  • Sarah Brodhead, Spectrum Health
  • Shannon Cohen, Community Ventures & Sisters Who Lead
  • Danielle DeWitt, Spectrum Health Foundation
  • Afton DeVos, Kids’ Food Basket
  • Cailin Kelly,Creston Brewery
  • Lorena Aguayo-Marquez, DGRI
  • Alexis Rangel, Lake Michigan Credit Union
  • Tami Sytsma, Sytsma Wealth Strategies
  • LaTarro Traylor, DGRI
  • Alyssa Veneklase, Gold Coast Doulas LLC

Scholarship winners

Five $1,000 ATHENA scholarship recipients will be awarded from the stage. The ATHENA scholarship goes to women age 30 or older who are working to complete a degree program at an accredited college or university.

Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce

The Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce has more than 2,500 member businesses, 80 percent of which are small businesses with fewer than 50 employees.

The chamber works to expand the information, influence and access required to spur entrepreneurial growth and community leadership.

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